Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country is willing to step up cooperation with both Koreas in gas, energy and railways, North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency reported Monday.
In a message to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on Korea's 66th Liberation Day, Medvedev said Russia is willing to expand cooperation with North Korea in matters of mutual concern, including a trilateral project in gas, energy and railway construction involving Russia and both Koreas.
The project "will contribute to stabilizing the situation in Northeast Asia and denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula," KCNA quoted him as saying.
Medvedev's proposal comes after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with his South Korean counterpart Kim Sung-hwan on Aug. 8. At the meeting, Lavrov said Russia is optimistic about plans to lay a gas pipeline across the inter-Korean border, since the North is positive about it.
The pipeline aims to supply Russian natural gas to both Koreas. The project has been under discussion between the Korea Gas Corporation and Gazprom, Russia's largest extractor of oil and natural gas.
"Russia is trying to give shape to projected three-way cooperation among both Koreas and Russia in the gas sector, rather than in energy or railways where it is realistically more difficult to seek trilateral cooperation," a senior South Korean government official said. "Russia expects that this project will not only turn out to be economically beneficial to all, but play a role in deterring the North from launching military provocations."